Megillah, Daf Tet, Part 6



Before the Temple in Jerusalem was built it was permitted to build personal altars and offer sacrifices on them. At this time period there were also communal altars. The personal altars are called small altars whereas the communal altars are called great altars . The great altar is referred to in I Kings 3:2, The people, however, continued to offer sacrifices at altars, because up to that time no house had been built for the name of the Lord. The king went up to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great altar

Our mishnah outlines the differences that existed in this time period between great, communal altars and personal, small altars.



משנה. אין בין במה גדולה לבמה קטנה אלא פסחים.

זה הכלל: כל שהוא נידר ונידב קרב בבמה, וכל שאינו לא נידר ולא נידב – אינו קרב בבמה.


1)     There is no difference between a great altar and a small altar except for the pesach offering.

2)     This is the general principle: any animal which can be brought as a vow-offering or a freewill offering may be brought on a [small] altar, any animal which is not the object of a vow or a freewill-offering may not be brought on a [small] altar.


Section one: An individual cannot sacrifice the pesah at his own altar, but rather must bring it to the communal altar.

Section two: Only voluntary offerings can be offered at a small altar. Mandatory offerings, such as the tamid, the musaf, the pesah, sin-offerings, guilt-offerings, holiday-related offerings and others, must be brought to the central altar.



גמרא. פסחים ותו לא? – אימא: כעין פסחים.


GEMARA. The pesach sacrifice and nothing else?

Rather we should say, things like the pesach.


The Talmud explains that not only the pesah cannot be offered at the small altar, but all mandatory sacrifices as well, which are like the pesach. This is illustrated in the general principle in clause two of the mishnah.

מני? רבי שמעון היא. דתניא, רבי שמעון אומר: אף צבור לא הקריבו אלא פסחים וחובות שקבוע להם זמן, אבל חובות שאין קבוע להם זמן – הכא והכא לא קרב.


Whose view is this? R. Shimon’s, as it has been taught: R. Shimon says: Even the congregation did not offer [on the large altar] anything except the pesah and obligatory sacrifices for which there is a fixed time; but obligatory sacrifices for which there is no fixed time were not offered either on the one or the other.


The mishnah allows one to offer pesahim and sacrifices with a fixed time on the large altar. According to the Talmud, only these sacrifices were offered on the large altar. Other sacrifices that do not have a set time could not be offered on either altar, and would have to wait until there was a permanent home in the Temple. The other rabbis disagree and hold that anything offered in the Tent of Meeting in the wilderness can also be offered in the Tent of Meeting that was found in Gilgal in the land of Israel.